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banner Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK
Clinton cheers up wet Wimbledon
Bill Clinton talks to Garry Richardson at Wimbledon
Bill Clinton talks to Garry Richardson at Wimbledon
By BBC Sport Online's Saj Chowdhury at Wimbledon

The great thing about Wimbledon is that it can be entertaining even without the tennis.

Okay, so that may be overstating things, but not by much when you have the Band of the Welsh Guards, Alastair McGowan and former US president Bill Clinton.

That's right Bill Jefferson Clinton.

Once the tannoy announcer said that he was unable to give an exact time of when the rain would cease, loud groans echoed around the sparsely populated arena.

But that was before the Big Band from Wales took centre stage.

I was slow but I liked it
  Clinton on the days he used to play tennis
Most of the tunes were reminiscent of the ones you used to hear in the old-fashioned Tesco stores - music which you had heard time and time again but never quite knew the name of.

But the band were eager not to disappoint and, for the finale, the Centre Court braves were treated to an easy-listening version of "Can't Buy Me Love" by the Beatles.

That was just a taster of things to come.

By 1400BST, Britain's best loved impressionist (sorry Mike Yarwood fans) Alistair McGowan took his position in the Royal Box and proceeded to go through a carefully and well presented repertoire, which included impressions of Greg Rusedski, David Beckham and Virginia Wade.

McGowan said, while doing Wade, that she sounds like she is about to burp after every sentence.

All the more amusing because Wade would probably have been in the vicinity, trying not to cringe while looking through her notes for BBC Television.

The crowd must have thought that the return of the Big Band would be imminent.

But the tannoy announcer/weather reporter suddenly sprang the second biggest surprise of the day.

BBC Sport's Garry Richardson was poised in the middle of the Royal Box with microphone in hand as the speaker hollered that ex-president of the United States, Bill Clinton, would be interviewed in front of their very eyes.

Manilow reborn

As Clinton emerged from below, the crowd whooped and whistled.

He looked like a regular on the chat show scene, taking his position next to our Garry.

"I've never been here before and it's a great thrill," he said.

"I haven't played for a few years and back then I wasn't very good. I was slow but I liked it."

Clinton went on to explain his love for the game and seemed to have a good knowledge of tennis.

He even remembered the time when he allegedly upset Andre Agassi's rhythm at the French Open final.

"I think that's a bit unfair," he replied to Richardson's bold question.

The former president then talked about his love for golf after Richardson ran out of questions about tennis.

"I never played with Tiger just because we never had the chance. But I have played with Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd and Greg Norman - which was one of the best days of my life."

Bless him.

As mentioned before, Clinton was the second biggest suprise of the day on Centre Court - the first was the Big Band returning to play their version of Barry Manilow's Copacabana.


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